Saturday, May 12, 2007

Twisters, Fires, Floods Keep Guard Busy at Home

As President Bush toured tornado-ravaged Kansas Wednesday, the National Guard was responding to a series natural disasters from coast to coast. In Missouri, 40 Guard troops worked overnight to protect a water plant in the town of Craig from the rising waters of the Missouri River. An additional 60 personnel formed a quick reaction force to respond to any communities in need. In South Dakota, 47 Guard soldiers were on state active duty in support of local emergency management agencies in ongoing flood-relief efforts in eastern parts of the state.

They hauled nonmilitary generators and water pumps to relieve pressure on local water treatment plants in the towns of Groton and Warner, placed sandbags to save a resident’s home in Redfield and built a 1,000-foot-long wall to protect lift-stations, which pump waste water to treatment plants, and electrical substations in Aberdeen.

In Florida, 50 Guard soldiers used two specially equipped UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to fight a fire that ravaged thousands of acres in three central Florida counties. Crews had flown 126 sorties and dropped about 101,240 gallons of water as of Wednesday, officials said. In California, the Guard had not been requested to help fight a rapidly moving wildfire in Los Angeles’ sprawling Griffith Park. However, the state Guard officials were monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, the president saw some of the more than 500 Guard soldiers and airmen called to help Greensburg begin to recover from a May 4 twister that destroyed an estimated 95 percent of the town.

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